By Nina Kaye, one of the Administrators at Epsom Refugee Network & Co-Founder of Refugees At Home
Last Autumn we hosted  Ahmed (not his real name), a Syrian refugee at our home in Epsom, Surrey. We have hosted nearly 30 refugees and asylum seekers since we set up the charity Refugees At Home in October 2015. Ahmed had a very good knowledge of English and had a Masters degree in Mathematics.
 
One Thursday evening, Ahmed told us that he had been offered a job as an IT support person in an American company for Arabic speaking areas, which sounded ideal for him. Having showed us the contract, he had decided to accept the position which was to start in 5 days’ time – in Poole!  He had nowhere to live, had no money to rent a place or stay in a b&b. I called Refugees At Home, who have more than 1,000 hosts on their files, but sadly they had no hosts in the Bournemouth and Poole area which was a blow. 
 
I needed to help Ahmed find somewhere to stay in such a short space of time so I went onto the City of Sanctuary website to see if Poole was one of their groups, and to my delight, found that Bournemouth and Poole was indeed a City of Sanctuary. I contacted them, explaining that we needed to find a host for Ahmed to stay for a month or so while he saved enough money to put down a deposit and pay the first month’s rent on a flat. Almost immediately I received a reply saying they would share this with their network. By the end of the day, I had received 3 calls, two from potential hosts offering N a room and the third from someone who said that, although he couldn’t offer a room in his house, he was willing to pay for N to stay at the local Travelodge for up to a month. 
It really is heart-warming to know that there are so many kind and good people around who are happy to support refugees. By the weekend we were driving Ahmed to Poole to one of the two hosts where he settled in happily.
 
Thank you City of Sanctuary!